Apps for Saving, Investment, and Retirement

As a former police officer and an attorney who regularly represents police officers and other public servants, I have a good idea of what financial life is like for police officers and other public servants. It can be tough. It often means that police officers work a combination of overtime and off-duty details that would make working two jobs seem inviting. Add a family and that challenge just gets more difficult.

The U.S. Supreme Court has held that police need a search warrant to look through someone’s smart phone. Why? Because, these days, we have the most intimate details of our lives stored on our phones — the type of information that should be protected. Some of that information is financial information.

I have made a few posts of Facebook and Twitter, but it is a little disjointed and hard to make sense of in that format. So, I thought I would put it here, together. I am going to share my experience with 3 apps: Acorns, Robin Hood, and Stash. A little disclaimer — I do use these 3 apps and clicking on the links I provide will give me and the clicker (you) a $5 bonus for signing up. While I did not write this to hustle $5 bonuses, who would turn down a free $5? The point is that the $5 is not my motivation.

Acorns

Acorns takes a unique approach to saving and investing. When you set up Acorns, you tell the app what level of risk you are willing to undertake. For example, you can set up the investments as conservative, moderately conservative, moderate, moderately aggressive, or aggressive. Acorns invests your money in one of five funds that invest in things that fit the appropriate risk profile. You link your bank account and/or credit card accounts to Acorns. As you spend money, Acorns rounds up your purchases to the nearest dollar. When the rounded up change reaches $5, it transfers the money to your Acorns account and invests it in the appropriate fund. It essentially invests yours spare change for you.

You can also tell Acorns you want to invest a lump sum each month in addition to the spare change it invests it on a regular basis. Finally, you can ask Acorns to transfer funds as needed. You can withdraw funds from Acorns pretty easily using the app. It takes 3-5 business days before you see the funds appear in your account, but the funds do appear in your account.

You can also open a debit account and a retirement account with Acorns. The money grows without having to pay any attention to it. I transfer my spare change and $100 extra per month set at moderately aggressive and my account has returned 1.88%. So, not the greatest return, but it is certainly better than any savings account.

The fee is $1/month or .002% for balances over $10,000.

Acorns is intended to be used through an app on your phone, but you can access your account through the Acorns website.

Click here to download Acorns.

Stash

Stash may be my favorite. Stash is a cross somewhere between Acorns (it does not invest spare change like Acorns) and Robin Hood (which will be next, but is more like traditional investing). Stash links to your bank account and you can set an “auto-stash” or you can manually transfer funds to invest. Once you transfer the funds you have to choose your own investment vehicles.

Stash has a number of funds that are organized by the types of companies the funds invest in. The funds are categorized into “I Believe,” “I Want,” and “I Like.” The categories are supposed to represent things you might believe in, want, or like. For example, one of the funds in I Believe is called Clean & Green and invests in companies that use or produce clean energy sources such as wind and solar. Another is Defending America which invests in America’s military suppliers. Women Who Lead invests in companies lead in the area of gender equality. I’m not sure what the I Want category is supposed to be. I mean, I could guess, but I don’t know that I would be right. It has a fund called Corporate Cannabis. I am sure you can guess what that is about. There are also funds that describe the risk level – Aggressive Mix, Conservative Mix, Long-Term Mix, etc. The funds in I Like are things you might be interested in, I guess. They have names such as American Innovators (Google, Facebook, Apple, etc.), BLOK (companies working on the block chain), and On Cloud Nine (companies developing cloud computing). Finally, there are a selection of companies you can invest in directly.

The list of companies you can invest in directly include such companies as Alphabet (Google), Amazon, General Dynamics, Boeing, Facebook, Netflix, and others. The beauty of this is that you can invest however much you would like. For example, if you were to buy Amazon (AMZN) from your stock broker, each share would cost you more than $1,500 ($1,691 as I write this). Alphabet (Google – GOOGL) is $1,092.18 per share as I write this. With Stash, you can invest $50.00 in Amazon and own approximately .003 shares. Now, you won’t be controlling the voting at Board meetings, but if 1 share of Amazon goes up by 5%, 1000 shares go up by 5% and .003 shares goes up by 5%. If your goal is a hostile takeover of Mr. Bezo’s empire, you should choose another vehicle. If your goal is similar to mine — saving some money that earns more than what savings accounts are paying in interest — then this may be a good option for you. I think Amazon is a good investment. Amazon is into everything these days and the companies it does not own have to use Amazon services to make money. It would cost me $169,100 to buy 100 shares and I don’t have that sitting around ready to invest. I can, however, find $50 to invest in Amazon. You could tell Stash to invest $5/week in Amazon. Or you tell Stash to invest $5/week in Amazon and $15/week in the fund composed of companies picked by IBM’s Watson.

One of the things I really like about Stash is that it allows you to open custodial accounts for your minor children. The custodial accounts work just like the main accounts. Stash also has a debit account and a retirement account option available.

The fee is $1/month or .002% if your balance is over $10,000 — the same as Acorns.

You can download Stash here.

Robin Hood

Robin Hood is more like a traditional investment account. You buy shares of companies at the prices everyone else buys shares of stock. If you had $169,100 in your Robin Hood account, you could buy 100 shares of AMZN. There is not a limited number of companies. You can also buy and sell options and Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

There are no fees (account fees or trading fees) associated with Robin Hood unless you borrow money from them using Robin Hood Gold (margin trading). The company also earns interest on the un-invested cash in your account.

You can download Robin Hood here.

I hope this information is helpful to everyone who reads this. It is important to take a minute to plan for the future. If it is fun, you may be more likely to do it. So, do your research. There are other articles on these apps. There is another called Betterment which I don’t have any experience with. However, there are numerous articles online that compare and contrast Acorns, Stash, Robin Hood, and Betterment. Maybe we can both get $5 out of the deal.

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A look back at 2018

For the last few years, I have tried to give a short tally of my FOP Legal Defense Plan activities. I think where I have fallen short in the past is that my short tallies haven’t been very short. So, this time is going to be different.

If you are in law enforcement, you should be in the FOP Legal Defense Plan. If you work for NOPD, that means you should be a member of Crescent City Lodge #2. If you work for another agency, then you should belong to your local lodge. If you don’t have a local lodge, you might be able to join Lodge 100 or another lodge in your area. You may also be able to start a new lodge. The point is that in 2019, the FOP Legal Plan is as important to a law enforcement officer as what tools are on his duty belt. Police officers should never go to work without wearing a bullet proof vest. Likewise, police officers should never go to work without the FOP’s Legal Defense Plan protecting them also.

In New Orleans, I believe things related to disciplinary investigations have begun to level off. I think the total number of DI-1 investigations or formal disciplinary investigations is probably close to the total for 2017. My stats are pretty close to 2017 also.

413

413 is the number of individual law enforcement officers I provided some type of legal service. Most of those 413 law enforcement officers were active members of the New Orleans Police Department. Some, however, were from other departments in southeast Louisiana. A few of those 413 law enforcement officers were retirees. Most were administrative disciplinary actions. Some were criminal investigations. Some were civil issues, workers compensation issues, issues with pay, or other issues associated with their employment.

248

I accompanied officers to 248 interviews in connection with formal disciplinary investigations. This includes statements at NOPD PIB, district stations, and at other agencies.

98

I attended 98 disciplinary hearings with FOP members. This includes Commander’s hearings, Bureau Chief hearings, Pre-Disposition Conferences, and any other hearings that resulted from a sustained charge in a disciplinary investigation.

110

I have 110 New Orleans Civil Service extension request hearings in my records. That is almost certainly very low. Sometimes it is better to lay low at extension hearings.

25

I accompanied 25 FOP members to an Accident Review Board hearing.

14

I represented FOP members in 14 Civil Service appeal hearings.

.500

In 2018, the Civil Service Commission released 6 decisions in cases I took to a hearing before the hearing officer. In 3 of those decisions, the Civil Service Commission granted the appeal, at least in part. In addition, at least 7 appeals were settled before the hearing. 2018 also included a decision in the protests of 3 police sergeants which I would consider a win. Counting that, my average would go up to .667. In 2017, there were 10 decisions in cases I took to hearing before the hearing officer. In 6 of those 10 cases, the appeal was granted, at least in-part. I recall when I first started handling these types of cases, the Louisiana State Civil Service used to keep detailed records on appeals. 8% of employees were successful in their appeals. I am confident my 50% – 60% win percentage is much better than average. Published Civil Service decisions can be found here.

75

I was able to notarize 75 documents for FOP members over the course of 2018.

18

The FOP provides each one of its members 2 hours of legal services for whatever the FOP member may need. I was able to do that for FOP members on 18 occasions in 2018. Sometimes that means drawing up and executing a Last Will and Testament or a Living Will. Sometimes those two hours are put toward something else, like a succession. One way or another, I try to get as much done within the 2 hours as possible.

So, that’s my review of 2018. I will leave everyone with one story from early 2019 before I hit publish.

Very early in 2019, I got a call from an officer about an officer involved shooting. The officer who called said that he wasn’t involved, but two other officers were and he gave me the location. I started in the direction of the scene and I was notified that there were three officers involved. Eventually that turned into four officers and one officer was in the hospital. The officer at the hospital was not injured badly thanks to his body armor which functioned as expected. Once I was on the scene and had spoken to the third officer, i learned that there were a total of 5 officers involved.

Now, this incident is not going to turn into any major production. It is a pretty straight-forward officer involved shooting and it was recorded from start to finish on four different cameras in high-definition. However, had it been a more controversial OIS, I am sure you could imagine what the legal costs would have been for five (5) officers. Fortunately, these officers all would have been protected by the FOP Legal Defense Plan if they would have really needed it.

It turns out the 5th officer on the scene of this OIS had recently graduated from the Academy and was in field training. I walked over to talk to him with a member of the FIT team. The FIT sergeant introduced himself and then went to introduce me and the officer in training said “Let me guess – my FOP attorney.” Sure enough. After we talked about public safety statements and what to expect, I asked this officer if he had my phone number. He kind of laughed to himself and said that I had been in his class recently at the Academy recently and I had told everyone to keep my number. He related to me that he had sat there thinking that he would never need it and did not put my number in his phone.

Put mt number in your phone. Who knows when you will need it? You can use it whenever you want. It might be something stupid. It might be something critical. It doesn’t matter to me or the FOP.

 

#BrothersandBadgesTogether with NOPDs 5th District.

Uniting police and public in very dis-united urban areas is a major part of my safety advocacy. A brief glimpse over the hotly debated cause of rioting after officers shoot Black male subjects is the latest reason why I work to unite brothers who sow safety with counterparts wearing badges.

Most of my efforts are centralized in New Orleans St. Roch and Marigny communities. This is also part of the jurisdiction of New Orleans Police Department  ( NOPD ) 5th District.
It is commanded by Frank Young and its Deputy Commander is Lt. Lejon Roberts.
In my roles as Head of Security for the New Orleans Healing Center  ( a story in itself ) and area safety advocate, it was only natural to activate my Brothers and Badges Together collaboration here like I did in my hometown of Savannah, Ga.
Our area has active criminals targeting its growing transplant population. This is particularly true of single women being targeted for harassment; robbery and assault while they walk;  bicycle; sit outside and in public places.
My job and citizen on patrol activities, both literal and online, routinely bring me into contact with subjects worth noting and actual suspects.
I share observations and sightings of wanted individuals with the 5th District for evaluation and rapid response.
As Vice President of the Faubourg St Roch Improvement Association, I add member concerns in the same manner.
This is how it should work between urban stakeholders of any color and local law enforcement. This is how it must work regarding Black male stakeholders fighting to create safety in very unsafe areas.
Including an arrest of a serial trespasser yesterday, my Brothers and Badges Together collaboration with the 5th District has produced seven arrests in several months time for offenses ranging from simple assault, criminal trespassing, burglary and simple robbery, in addition to victims being assisted by this District’s top decision makers and those they assign to these cases.
Because my safety advocacy builds up police/community relations instead of teariing them down, this brother works with, not against, his local police district to create safety instead of enemies.
Thanks to Commander Young and Deputy Commander Roberts, Brothers and Badges Together is a reality with the New Orleans Police Department’s 5th District.
#BrothersandBadgesTogether
Nadra Enzi aka Cap Black is a Safety Advocate in New Orleans, La.

Help is a Phone Call Away #FOPLegal

90% of active NOPD officers are members of the Crescent City Lodge of the Fratetnal Order of Police. Crescent City Lodge members are also enrolled in the FOP Legal Defense Plan. The Legal Defense Plan provides its members with legal protection in criminal, administrative, and civil matters. Administrative matters are most common.

I was a member of the NOPD from 1993 to 2008. I graduated from law school in 2004. Also in 2004, the Crescent City Lodge was in a rebuilding phase which would lead to it becoming the largest representative organization for officers of the New Orleans Police Department. Being an officer, FOP member, and recent law school graduate, I was approached by Lt. Henry Dean, who was president at the time, and Sgt Jimmy Gallagher about the legal services offered to members. We discussed creating a position called Employee Representative which would be both an arm of the legal plan and a way to address other employment issues experienced by members that wouldn’t be part of the legal plan. The FOP was, and still is, dedicated to providing its members with the best possible legal defense benefit. In 2008, I began representing officers full time. That was nearly 10 years ago. All of that is to say that my experience with the NOPD, NOPD Policies and Procedures, Civil Service, appeals, and the FOP work to the advantage of Crescent City Lodge members.

The disciplinary system is part of the job that officers don’t interact with regularly. For that reason, it is beneficial to have a resource available to guide members through that process. The Legal Plan attorneys provide that service to our members.

Here are some basic guidelines;

  • Nothing is too unimportant to call.
  • We (the attorneys) are not too busy to talk to you about minor investigations.
  • You should call about negotiated settlements – you could still be eligible for the FOP’s salary reimbursement option.
  • Don’t resign.
  • If someone is talking to you about resigning because of an alleged disciplinary infraction, you should be represented. You should probably call if anyone is telling you to resign for any reason.
  • Once you resign, you lose any legal protection you may have had through Civil Service.
  • You should call if you did what you are accused of. You are eligible for the FOP’s salary reimbursement option only if you are represented by an FOP attorney during the course of the investigation (calling two months after you pick up the disciplinary letter is insufficient).
  • You should call even if you are being interviewed “just as a witness.” Witnesses can become accused officers too.
  • You should call if you get an email from Civil Service about the Department’s request for an extension of time.
  • You should call if you have any questions about when you should call.

The FOP Legal Defense Plan is designed to provide FOP members with the best possible representation when you need it. However, we don’t know you need it until you call. Also, calling after you have resigned does not leave you with any real, viable options.

Assessment Center Prep

The Fraternal Order of Police will be having two classroom training dates to help members of the NOPD prepare for the December 20, 2017 Sergeants Exam Assessment Center.

On December 9 and December 16, 2016, NOPD Commander Louie Dabdoub will be teaching his successful assessment center methodology on behalf of the FOP.

The December 9 class will be held at the NOPD Academy and will begin at 3:00 pm.

The December 16 class will be held at Lakeview Presbyterian Church, located at 5914 Canal Blvd. and will begin at 3:00 pm.

It is likely that both of these classes will last several hours.

Since the assessment center is just a few weeks ago, we decided to post a video of the introductory lecture here for officers to review. Download the two-page method steps here. You will need it.

Feel free to watch these videos as many times as you need. At the classroom sessions, Commander Dabdoub will apply these steps to actual scenarios and give feedback on answers given by the class.

Part 1 of 2

Part 2 of 2

Click here to download the Civil Service Department’s NOPD Sergeant Work-Sample Test.

FOP Family Fund

The Thanksgiving season is upon us which leads to the biggest giving season of the year, Christmas. The FOP hopes that you will consider contributing to the FOP Family Fund.

The New Orleans FOP Family Fund is a function of the Louisiana FOP Foundation, a 501(c)(3) charitable foundation. The FOP Family Fund is mainly funded by donations made by active and retired NOPD employees through payroll/pension deduction.  The FOP Family Fund also accepts  donations from private citizens and businesses wishing to support law enforcement.

WHAT THE FOP FAMILY FUND DOES

The FOP Family Fund assists police officers who are facing severe financial difficulty because of an on-the-job injury or personal tragedy.

It is an unfortunate reality of police work that officers get injured on a regular basis. Injuries occur when officers are in car crashes, when perpetrators resist arrest, or a myriad of other ways. When these work-related injuries result in officers being out of work, their income becomes suddenly dependent on workers compensation law. Workers compensation law entitles an officer to 2/3 of his or her salary for temporary disability benefits. The maximum amount changes each year in September. For the period of September, 2017 through September, 2018, the maximum benefit is $653/wk. That represents approximately 5 hours of an officer’s 8 hour day. The officer’s remaining salary must be made up by using sick leave, if available. Overtime and police detail income are never figured into workers’ compensation, and that portion of salary is simply lost to the officer.

In addition to helping FOP members injured in the line of duty, the FOP Family Fund makes immediate assistance available to the families of NOPD officers killed in the line of duty.

Officers are the victims of natural disasters just like everyone else, from time to time, and when that happens, the FOP Family Fund stands ready to help.  As an example, the FOP Family Fund (through the National FOP Foundation) provided over $1,000,000 in financial assistance to law enforcement officers throughout the State following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

In August, 2016, a dangerous tornado touched down in New Orleans and there was destructive flooding in southeast Louisiana. Several of our members suffered significant losses as a result of the tornadoes and flooding.  The FOP Family Fund was able to provide assistance to those members, some of whom had lost their homes.

HOW TO CONTRIBUTE

The FOP Family Fund cannot survive without donations from our members and members of the public. Officers who are interested in donating to the FOP Family Fund, even if it is just $1 per pay period, can do so by visiting the NOPD Payroll office to sign up for payroll deduction. Anyone else who would like to make a tax deductible donation to the FOP Family Fund can mail a check to the FOP Family Fund, P. O. Box 24154, New Orleans, LA 70184.

The FOP Family Fund pays no administrative fees from direct contributions.  Every penny of every donation goes to assist our local law enforcement officers..

 

Our federal tax ID number is 20-3484575.

 

FOP Vigilance on the Fake News Front

Quote

news

Members,

As some of you may have seen in the past week, Antigravity Magazine recently published a story (Get Behind the Mask, February 2017) disparaging the Fraternal Order of Police and law enforcement generally. Most importantly, author Jules Bentley leveled a serious allegation directed at a fictitious NOPD officer in her feature.

While I in no way wish to legitimize this fringe publication, it is troubling to consider that this writer is also a frequent contributor to Gambit Weekly. The FOP takes seriously the growing number of platforms in which conspiracy theorists spread nonsense and outright falsehoods that damage our relationship with the communities we serve. In such instances I make no distinction between legitimate media and this gratis alternative rag – if it has a circulation, the editorial board has a responsibility to fact-check. If they refuse to fact-check, the FOP will step in to rebuke such openly false claims.

Bentley’s incoherent stream-of-consciousness story makes little sense as it weaves between Nazis, police, and untruthful allegations of police misconduct during recent anti-Trump protests; the relevant excerpt can be found in the initial message of the email chain pasted below.

As always, the Fraternal Order of Police, New Orleans, remains vigilant in protecting our members (both real and fictional) and our profession from outright lies and we believe our duty to do so applies especially when such allegations are made in a public forum. While the exchange is humorous, keep in mind that at least some number of readers of this magazine believe this is journalism and the claims to be factual.

___________________________________________

To: Jules Bentley and Editorial Board, Antigravity Magazine (February 9, 2017)

From: Jacob Lundy, Fraternal Order of Police

In re: Get Behind the Mask, February 2017
The Fraternal Order of Police; New Orleans, requests this publication issue a retraction to the above captioned story produced by Jules Bentley for the February 2017 print edition.
The story contains the following graf; “‘Turn off your body cameras,’ NOPD’s Brian Mcadam yelled to other officers as he waded into the anti-Trump crowd that fateful Friday night, grabbing for and indiscriminately whaling on every non-cop within reach.”
In Ms. Bentley’s colorful account of this criminal act, the story references a fictitious employee, Brian Mcadam, who is neither a current or past police officer of this jurisdiction.
While your magazine does not hold itself out as journalism (clearly), it is no less reckless to pander such falsehoods to inadvertent consumers of satire who are not at all aware of the difference. Such wild assertions are tantamount to my callously referring to Ms. Bentley as a writer, without regard for the truth of the matter.
If your interns insist on venturing into print, perhaps they should spread their wings at the Hullaballoo, where they can be monitored by a more experienced editorial board.
Jacob Lundy
Fraternal Order of Police
Policy Advisor, State of Louisiana
Policy Advisor, New Orleans
Member, Louisiana Legislative Committee
Member, National Legislative Committee
__________________________________________________
From: Jules Bentley (cc Editorial Board
To: Jacob Lundy, Fraternal Order of Police
oh word what’s mcadam’s first name then? happy to correct that
p.s. “pander” doesn’t take a direct object without the preposition “to.”
p.p.s. louis ackal
__________________________________________________
From: Jacob Lundy, Fraternal Order of Police
To: Jules Bentley (cc Editorial Board)
No one with the surname “Mcadam” is employed by the City of New Orleans, in any division or department. That isn’t a correction, it’s a retraction.
____________________________________________________
 (No one from Antigravity Magazine has responded to the last email.)
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2016 – Year in Review


First of all, happy New Years to all who happen by this blog.  2016 is behind us and that is probably a good thing.  2017 will present some new challenges for law enforcement and the Fraternal Order of Police will be there for its members.  I would like to extend my usual invitation to any FOP members who would like to advocate on behalf of themselves and other law enforcement officers.  The FOP is an organization run by its members on behalf of its members.  If you want to be involved, all you have to do is let someone know.  

The FOP Legal Defense Plan continues to be the best legal plan available to law enforcement officers.  In 2016, there were some significant changes made to the NOPD disciplinary system.  While these changes were effective in May, 2016, the impact wasn’t felt until late in the year.  In 2017, we will feel the full brunt of these changes and I believe the end result will be more suspensions and more Civil Service appeals.  There could be instances where you would expect a letter of reprimand which may end up being a 30-day suspension.

Late in 2016, I heard more than once “I can’t believe the FOP agreed to these changes (to the disciplinary system).”  The fact is that the FOP did not agree to these changes.  We were given an opportunity to comment on the new disciplinary policy.  I was the only one to submit comments.  I submitted several several pages of comments.  The next time I saw the policy, it was in its current form.  Several of our comments were put into the new policy, but there were plenty of comments that were disregarded.  That was the extent of the input into the current disciplinary policy.  So, what we now have is a system which makes it much easier for a violation to be a second or third offense.  In addition, one of the procedural safeguards which existed previously was changed.  Like I said – more suspensions and more appeals.  Please don’t hesitate to call if you are the accused or a witness in a disciplinary investigation.  You may think the allegation is minor or whatever, and it may be.  But, will it can never hurt to call your FOP attorney.  No case is too nsignificsnt. 

In 2016, I represented 398 individual police officers in some fashion.  I represented officers in:

  • 228 statements or interviews
  • 76 Bureau Chief or Commander’s Disciplinary Hearings
  • 7 Pre-Disposition Conferences (new policy)
  • 36 Accident Review Board Hearings 
  • 51 appearances before the Civil Service Commission
  • 23 Civil Service appeal hearings

Livaccari Law also helped numerous officers with automobile accidents, both on-duty and off. We also created wills, living wills, and power of attorney for FOP members and handled several successions. While Livaccari Law does not practice family law, the FOP has a good family law benefit and I was able to direct a number of officers in the right direction to get the assistance they needed. 

2017 will undoubtedly present similar needs for FOP members.  Likewise, the FOP Legal Defense Plan will be there for you when you need it.  All you have to do is pick up the phone. 

A Move in the Right Direction?

Some public safety watchers greet the January 3rd, 2017 return of the ” Targeted Marigny, ” to the New Orleans Police Department’s  5th District with alarm and skepticism.

Currently in the French Quarter-focused 8th District, its robust violent crime statistics, critics say, will now be added to the 5th Districts loaded ledger. Less suspicious, but equally concerned, observers wonder about active complaints and investigations which may soon land in limbo. They join skeptics in asking, is moving the ” Targeted Marigny ” to the incident-rich 5th District a move in the right direction?

-Nadra Enzi aka Cap Black, RLSH. Creator,#CapBlackStreetPatrol. *Walking escorts* *Victim advocacy* Last but never least, police support